Before we started BNN I rarely read blogs that dealt with the idea of minimalism. I have previously considered “minimalism” in itself to be more about a particular aesthetic than a philosophy for life. I’ve been really enjoying my reading on the topic, and found myself pondering the philosophies often lately. You may have gathered that I am far from a minimalist in the material sense and it’s not something I particularly aspire to. I do, however, enjoy the idea of simplifying my life – letting go of some of the mental and physical clutter that fills space in my mind and calendar.
I really enjoyed the first six weeks of Little Fearse’s life. I had been geared to experience infinite challenges, emotional turmoil, inability to ‘achieve’ and feelings of being overwhelmed and under resourced. I did feel and experience all those things on and off, but on the whole I just enjoyed my baby. We would often sleep in until 11am because that’s what she wanted to do. I would spend whole days playing with her, holding her, watching her, reading to her, sleeping with her. On these days there was never food ready for dinner when BP got home. The washing wasn’t done, the house wasn’t tidy, the bathroom didn’t smell of bleach. And you know what? None of us suffered. In fact, we all found our lives more gentle and enjoyable for it.
Sometimes this wasn’t possible. Sometimes for whole weeks we had visitors (four lots in one day was our brain exploding record), appointments, places to be every single day. On these weeks our sleep, energy and emotional wellbeing suffered.
I have learnt that to be an effective parent I need to have down time with my baby in every week. I have learnt that to be a happy baby Little Fearse needs whole days where she doesn’t get in the car or see a new face or have a new experience.
In this world we are geared towards productivity. We are driven by a force to achieve and have proof of achievement. We are not to let our hedges get unwieldy or our kitchen floors get grubby, our windows to be streaked or our lawns to be long. We are to socialise, get out of the house, see people – be seen with people! We are to have jobs, do our chores, cook our meals from scratch – be the best, most productive people we can be. One might say like a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics.
Back to regular programming.
Joshua Becker’s article The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life has given me a lot to think about. I am constantly trying to multitask to get things done. I will also often jump from task to task as though I’m ticking things off an urgent mental ‘to do’ list. I find on days I do this I really crash at the end. I’ll often be too tired to make dinner, or give Little Fearse the attention she needs or even respond appropriately to BP in conversation (apparently ‘so’s your face’ is wearing thin). And my freezer might be full, my bathroom might be clean, the sixteen loads of washing might be washed and hung up and dried and taken down and put away (hahaha) but I’m useless as a partner and mother. So, what’s the point?
Becoming a minimalist is about more than an aesthetic and more than getting rid of stuff. It’s also about tidying your mind and day. Deciding what is most important because you can’t do everything. BP and Little Fearse are most important to me, followed by laughter and a sense of fun and a healthy lifestyle. I obviously need to balance that with the other sometimes necessary tasks in life. I always need to leave room for these things.